There's no denying that Oregon Ducks sophomore De'Anthony Thomas is electric and exciting with the football in his hands.
His performance in January's Rose Bowl -- two carries, 155 yards, two touchdowns -- put him on the national radar, and he's remained on Heisman Trophy watch lists for this season ever since.
But after watching every snap of Thomas' 2012 season thus far, and taking into account the Ducks' overall talent and depth, I can't help but wonder whether Thomas really is a legitimate Heisman candidate this season.
The problem? Oregon just might have too many other weapons.
Don't misunderstand me -- Thomas definitely has the tools to win this trophy. His speed is ridiculous -- he runs the 100 and 200 meters and the 4x100 relay for the Oregon track team -- and when he breaks away in the open field, there aren't many defenders who can catch up with him.
Thomas also has the type of multi-purpose abilities that Heisman voters love -- he's listed as a running back but is so good as a receiver that the Ducks often line him up in the slot, and he's as dangerous a return man as there is in the nation.
But the fact that Thomas and his abilities are merely one part of Oregon's offensive machine -- and not the biggest part, or the part the Ducks have built around -- is what could potentially keep him from winning the Heisman.
Well, that and the fact that Geno Smith appears to be the runaway favorite at this point of the season.
Consider, though, that Oregon is 5-0 and has won its two Pac-12 Conference games without giant, Heisman-esque efforts from Thomas.
After Saturday's 51-26 victory over Washington State, the man known in Eugene as DAT and as "Black Momba" (that's the correct spelling, according to Thomas) slipped to 31st in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 139.6 per game.
He didn't have a bad game by any means -- 126 all-purpose, including a team-high six receptions for 28 yards and six carries for 26 yards and a touchdown -- but it was the second week in a row that his statistics failed to "wow." In the Ducks' 49-0 win over Arizona the week before, he had 97 all-purpose yards with no touchdowns.
I'm not dogging on Thomas here. The guy has the freakish talent put up 100-yard rushing games and score touchdowns like it's nothing. In the opener against Arkansas State, Thomas played about a quarter and a half, touched the ball eight times, and finished with 125 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. The next week, against Fresno State, Thomas carried seven times for 102 yards and two TDs. A week later, on just six offensive touches -- three carries, three receptions -- he had 135 yards and two more TDs.
But the Ducks are loaded with offensive talent, and Kenjon Barner is the featured running back this year as his 20 carries for 195 yards and four total touchdowns against WSU attest. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is a capable runner, as well, and Oregon has begun using tight end Colt Lyerla out of the backfield, giving the Ducks a more powerful runner to complement the flash of Barner and Thomas. That's in addition to a deep, talented pool of receivers and a backup quarterback and a couple of other backup running backs who also see their share of snaps.
Despite all the talent, the Ducks will continue finding ways to get the ball in Thomas' hands, whether it's as a running back, receiver, or returner, but Thomas is not a "give me the ball" type. He's a humble guy who is happy being part of a team filled with weapons.
Does he have the complete game to be a legitimate Heisman candidate?
But will he put up the statistics he'll need this season to draw enough attention from Heisman voters?
Only time will tell.
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